Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The French Connection

1971, US, directed by William Friedkin

Interesting as a compare/contrast pairing with Serpico on New York police procedures of the 1970s, as well as the overall attitude to the law by those on the enforcement side. There's more than a little celebration of the vigilante in the film, and it's tough to know whether such tactics were a (legitimate?) response to the New York streets of the era, or very much part of what made them so dangerous in the first place. Hackman catches the eye, but Scheider is the unsung (acting) hero.


2014, France, directed by Luc Besson

Hardly surprising that Besson takes the lessons of the Besson school and applies them with considerable force: fast plotting, breathless/kinetic action, a dash of humour, plus an engaging actress. It's everything you'd expect from a production line of considerable talent.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Most Wanted Man

2014, UK, directed by Anton Corbijn

Absorbing, but all a little too obvious in the end: untrustworthy American spies, espionage agents with troubled personal lives (or no personal lives at all), deep cynicism as to the way of the world, wintry colour schemes are all present and correct. By contrast, the Hamburg location is distinctive and used with great skill -- there's a real sense of the events happening in a very specific place, while the contrast between neighborhoods and social classes is sketched in economically. It's hard to resist the temptation to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in his own final spiral given his character's physical state though I suspect that this says more about Hoffman's qualities as an actor than his actual situation during filming.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


1952, UK, directed by Charles Crichton

A fine postwar thriller, with Crichton showing himself at least as adept at atmospheric material -- the nighttime scenes in and around Bogarde's flat are especially good -- as he was with comedy. The narrative moves along very briskly, with the central section a kind of proto-road/buddy movie. Bogarde moved with extraordinary ease between genres in the 1950s, equally convincing as a former sailor, doctor, colonial farmer or war hero.

Monday, January 05, 2015


1973, US, directed by Sidney Lumet

Watched as a companion piece/complete contrast to The Parallax View: visually and performatively the films are worlds apart even if they share a strong sense of place (New York here, the Pacific Northwest there). I've never been the world's greatest Pacino fan as his tendency to go big always seems to be present just under the surface, though this is a performance of considerable commitment and conviction with no attempt to smooth out Serpico's contradictions and confusions.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Duck Soup

1933, US, directed by Leo McCarey

A nice way to start the New Year, but a better way to start a life at the movies: this was Shay's first full film at the cinema and he loved it. Of course, when you're not-quite-four it's hard to figure out whether it's the popcorn, the funny seats, the evening out, the soda, the film itself or a bit of everything that is most important but for the most part Shay was an attentive audience member and had plenty of questions afterwards about the onscreen action. He thought the ending was completely crazy -- well, it was -- but his favourite scene was the wonderful "mirror" sequence, clearly a hit with the rest of the crowd too based on the laughter I heard behind me.


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Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States